Real stories: About overtreated teeth
We publish real stories from the practice of Airdoc. In this issue, we talk about why dentists in Switzerland assume their patients from Russia were in an accident when they see their teeth - as an example, here is a personal story of one of our translators.
“Did you have an accident?” – doctor N’s face showed sincere sympathy. A thin neat scar stretched from his nose to his temple and testified that the doctor had been involved in the accident himself before. When the dental mirror left my mouth, I just repeated in surprise: “Accident?”. My perplexity was not in any way connected to any difficulties of translation, because this time I – one of Airdoc’s interpreters – was in the chair of this Swiss dentist myself. “Oh, you mean my tooth fillings,” – I finally realized. How can I explain to him?
In order to tell the story of the “accident”, it would be necessary to describe the entire collapse of the former USSR’s medical system in the 1990s. It was the time when the very first private dental clinics started to appear: often they were one-day businesses, and often not even run by actual doctors. These clinics were, however, a huge success among the desperate post-soviet citizens who had at least some money, because these clinics were clean, and most importantly – there was an analgesic so that teeth were not treated “live”, as in almost all state dental offices at that time. Some private offices had real professionals employed, but in some, unfortunately, the main principle of dentists was to find any problem with the patient, so as to make people pay more for tooth conditions they “had to cure”.
Later on, I often interpreted for Dr. N, as well as for Dr. S and Dr. R during their appointments with Russian-speaking patients. Dentists stopped asking as many questions about accidents over time. However, during one of the sessions, Dr. S explained that he now does not need to hear the patient’s answer to find out that they came from the post-Soviet territories – he just needed to have a look at the x-ray of their teeth. “Your doctors love to treat the roots of the teeth. It can not be that all the people of a country have problems with the dental canals and nerves in such numbers. But every patient from the former USSR has some depulped teeth in their mouth. Here in Switzerland, we handle teeth differently – we try to save the nerve by any means, so taht the tooth we work with can live on “.
Later, I had the opportunity to translate the question about an accident once again, this time with Dr. R., a prosthetist. A young woman came to him, to change a full and double row of crowns. Dr. R, also somewhat embarrassed, explained his question about the accident: “For a dozen of years already, in Switzerland crowns are placed over teeth only in exceptional cases – e.g. only if the tooth is badly damaged or knocked out completely. We try to keep tooth material alive as long as possible so that the teeth serve as long as possible. After all, crowns must be changed every 10-15 years, and each time the tooth will be filed down again when fitting a new crown over it. If it is a question of aesthetics and a change in the shape of the teeth, then we put the veneers “sparingly” – only after all the other options have been exhausted, because veneers also require filing teeth down. Although a number of crowns, of course, allow the doctor and dental technicians to completely change the shape of the teeth at the request of the client, it is still better to resort to such measures only in case of acute necessity. “
Of course, since the 90s, the medicine on the post-Soviet territories, including dentistry, has taken a step forward. But everywhere, including advanced countries like Switzerland or Germany, the United States or Russia, you can still come across “old-school” doctors, unscrupulous specialists, or simply “not your doctors”. There are, of course, also differences between the “styles” of medical work in different countries, when it comes to dentistry. For example, the practice of aesthetic dentistry in the United States is strikingly different from the Swiss one. That is why someone who is used to the Swiss methods, might be dissatisfied with the American one and vice versa. What should be done in this case? – Secure yourself by getting the opinion of the second specialist. If the dentist offers you to treat many roots, if you are advised to put a row of crowns or a dental bridge, if you just want to perform an aesthetic correction of teeth – do not just go to one single clinic and/or to one doctor. Make an appointment in several clinics at once, and if you have an opportunity, consult a foreign specialist for a fresh point of view from a different angle. Do not forget to take all the x-rays, casts and anamnesis that you have to your appointments with each doctor. If you want to know the option to get a high-quality second opinion from Switzerland. You can upload your medical documents (e.g. x-rays), photos of your teeth, as well as a description of your problem in German or English through Airdoc’s website here, and get a written second opinion from a Swiss professional.